January 25th, 2008

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Confusion of Three, Chapter 12 of 17

Disclaimer: Legal stuff, don't own characters, haven't made any money, this is for entertainment purposes, no profit earned, lawyers go away. –kisses-

Spoiler Alert: There are tidbits from past episodes and Spanderverse: stories.

Notes: Fifth story in the Spanderverse-universe, following “Spanderverse: Burial”.

Everything from the television series through the defeat of Adam also occurred as depicted, in the Spanderverse. Following Burial and before this story BTVS: Real Me occurred. This is the Spanderverse: version of BTVS: The Replacement.

Note in the Spanderverse, Anya was employed at the Magic Shop by Mr. Bogerty until ‘Real Me’, as mentioned in Spanderverse: Dracula.

People’s thoughts are depicted in italics. You’ll find emphasis depicted with an underline.

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Spanderverse: Confusion of Three

Ch. 12/17 – Plans of Action

 

Commando-Xander was heading at a rapid jog toward the Magic Box, club in hand. The sun was beginning to dip and twilight was rapidly approaching. Above his head, clouds began to rumble in from the west. Apparently they were going to get another bout of fall rain, he grimaced.

 

A few blocks from Giles' store, he heard a familiar voice shout out to him. Stopping and turning, he waved over to Buffy and Riley.

 

"Nice branch there," Riley said as he came strolling up.

 

"Not just any branch, it's that Toth guy's magic beam spitter."

 

"You sure, Xan?" Buffy asked, her nose scrunching up, "It looks like a plain old branch to me."

 

"Looks are deceiving, Buff. I took it off of him myself, not twenty minutes ago."

 

"Wow, really?" Buffy said, impressed.

 

"He attacked me, but I was able to chase him off somehow. But that's not the half of it. Guys, Toth has somehow made himself look just like me! I'm talking the ultimate evil twin, here. And he must have been following me all day, because he attacked me at the apartment I was looking at."

 

"Apartment," Riley asked.

 

"Yeah, I've decided that Anya is worth more than keeping the run-down house. I'm going to fix it up a bit and put it on the market. Anyway, I've signed the papers on a new place; Anya is going to go ape. Oh, god, that reminds me; Toth was mentioning Anya, Buffy. I'm afraid he's going to target her for something by pretending to be me."

 

"That's not going to happen on my watch," Buffy said. "Don't worry about that. Were you taking the staff-thingy to Giles'?"

 

"Exactly. I was going to run out and arrange this whole romantic picnic thing for Anya, and then surprise her tonight, too. Guess that'll have to wait awhile."

 

"Oh, no it won't," Buffy said, sounding indignant. "You and Anya deserve a little celebration that is fight-free. Go. Give me that staff, I'll take it to the store. You go arrange your special evening."

 

"Are you sure Buffy? It seems wrong to flake out on a showdown when you might need me."

 

"I'm very sure. Riley and I can handle Toth. And, I'll know where you are if I need you."

 

"Plus," Riley added, "It'll keep us from getting confused in the melee and hitting the wrong one of you."

 

Xander handed over the staff to Buffy, who weighed it in her hands. She frowned at the offending stick, "It still looks like a plain old branch, though."

 

"Just don't go pointing it around," Xander said. "And thanks. I really appreciate you taking care of this so Anya and I can have our night. She has no clue what's coming, though. So, mum's the word. I'll pick her up at the 'Box' at around quarter to seven, if you can keep her there for me."

 

"No sweat," Buffy nodded, "I'm so happy that you guys have worked things out."

 

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Zeppo-Xander was running blindly down the streets of Sunnydale, berating himself. It had been stupid trying to take on that demon by himself and he knew it. At least, he used to know better. Before Dracula had come and completely changed his life. He hadn’t been able to save his own father, he’d be dead now or worse if it wasn’t for Spike, and now he was about to lose Anya and all of his friends to ‘Mr. Smooth-talker’. Xander stopped, wiping tears of frustration and fear from his eyes.

 

Looking around he noticed that he’d somehow managed to run into Riley’s neighborhood. He took a quick glance behind him, tripping over the uneven pavement as he did so. Falling to the sidewalk, he banged his funny bone hard on the cement and screamed before falling into a litany of cuss words. Fortunately there was no one on the street to be offended.

 

God, I’m so frickin’ clumsy today. Toth must have stolen my coordination or something when I got hit yesterday.

 

He climbed back to his feet, massaging his arm in an attempt to get the pins and needles to stop. His elbow bone continued screeching to him for its abuse.

 

Has it only been a day? Actually, its a few hours less than a day, at that, and Toth has still made me feel like a complete Zeppo. What am I gonna do?

 

He was about to give up and go to find Buffy when an image appeared in his mind. Anya, looking at him in disappointment, the embarrassment in her eyes that she’d ever gotten involved with him. And then there was Buffy with that ‘Xander needs saving again’ look.

 

No! Goddammit, Toth is not going to screw up my life this way. Riley! I’m near Riley’s… he may be out patrolling, but I can easily check. Then I’ll go to Willow; she won’t look at me like I’m useless the way Buffy will if I run to her with my tail between my legs.

 

Xander wandered the block until he came to a non-descript apartment block of gray cinder. Following the cracked tarmac, he went around the side of the building and into the back where a small parking lot sat. A few cars were in the lot, two of which looked so rusted-out, they might not even start anymore. He grimaced at the depressing scene that met his eyes, Wow, it didn’t look this sad when we were here in the daytime.

 

From Riley’s ‘housewarming’ lunch and beers, Xander knew that his apartment was around the back. He approached the back door of the place and gave it a tug, but as expected it was locked. The outer doors required a key or someone to buzz you in.

 

Continuing past the back door, he arrived a few windows down on the back of the building. If he counted right, he should be standing at the bedroom window of Riley’s. Since there were blinds drawn, he couldn’t be absolutely positive, but since he was desperate anyway, he began to pound on the window. At first he tapped the window softly, afraid of drawing attention from the other residents, but then harder as his frustration mounted.

 

When there remained no response, Xander removed his shirt; looking around warily the entire time. Darkness was coming fast now and he didn’t want to be picked up as a breaker-and-enterer nor did he want to become a snack for a vampire. He had tried that, thank you, didn’t like it; wasn’t interested in giving it another try.

 

Wrapping his shirt as many times as he could around his right elbow, he smashed the appendage against the bedroom window. After a few false starts in which the window slowly cracked, it finally broke completely, sending shards of glass into the room beyond. Xander felt upward for the window’s latch and was relieved when it turned easily enough for him to unlock the window. As he crawled inside and quickly re-shut the window, fighting to get the blinds back in place, he called out quietly for Riley.

 

He stood stock still, trying to see anything familiar in the room. He was scared now that he’d broken into the wrong apartment and was about to be greeted with a shotgun wielding sumo-wrestler. But, no, the apartment remained quiet.

 

He breathed a sigh of relief when he spotted a picture of Riley, Buffy and Giles. They were all grinning stupidly from within the frame. He remembered the day he took that so Riley would have a picture of himself and Buffy for his bedside stand. He didn’t remember how Giles had ended up in the picture. It was oddly comforting that the frame sat on Riley’s dresser, however, rather than near the bed. That would’ve just been creepy.

 

After Xander had left a note on Riley’s bed explaining the broken window pane, he searched the bedroom. Riley was an ex-military man and it stood to reason that he’d have a gun stashed somewhere in the apartment. Smart money would put it within easy reach for any uninvited nighttime visitors. As he pulled open the nightstand, he saw a glint of metal and smiled. A handgun, looking polished enough to see a reflection in sat in the bottom of the drawer surrounded by various detritus. As he pulled the gun from the drawer, getting used to its weight, he tried to ignore the condom packages and insisted his brain not think about Buffy and Riley at that moment.

 

Slamming the drawer shut, he left the way he’d come. Another indignity was suffered as he fell out of the window aggravating the injury to his elbow.

 

Swearing again, this time under his breath, he took off toward the U.C. Sunnydale campus. He hoped to find a pay phone on the way so he wouldn’t have to walk the whole distance.

                                                                                                                          

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Spike paced furiously in the sewer below Main Street. He’d been there already for twenty minutes smoking his way through a pack of fags waiting for the damned sun to go away. Despite the occasional rumble of thunder and the humid air that promised rain very soon, the clouds still hadn’t covered up the burning disc.

 

His mind was busy repeating the scene earlier in the day over and over. He was deeply worried about Xander.

 

He was also angry. This second emotion was directed firmly at Harmony and her whining when he’d made it clear that he was going out without her to meet with the Scoobies. She’d complained that he was setting her up for Buffy; then it was that he cared more about Xander than he did her (which was true, and he told her so); and finally it was a tirade about how he treated her wrong- blah, blah, blah. It had been a mercy to get away from her clinging nattering.

 

As Spike’s senses were telling him that the sun had finally sunk below the horizon where it was no longer dangerous, water suddenly rushed into the sewer in which he was standing. Above his head he heard the familiar voice of Buffy yelling out a complaint at the sudden deluge of rain. As Spike reached up to the street grate to begin the climb out of the sewer, water ran over his head, soaking his favorite and ubiquitous leather jacket.

 

“Oh, that’s nice,” he said, complainingly.

 

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Thirty minutes before sundown, Commando-Xander called the Magic Box and asked for Anya. Giles had been briefed on Xander’s big plans by Buffy when she’d dropped off Toth’s staff (which he thought looked different before, but couldn’t be sure). Although Giles had wanted her and Riley to research, she’d insisted on going back out to patrol for the demon. Lowering his voice, he’d asked Xander if he was ready and when Xander confirmed, Giles gave him a whispered ‘good luck’.

 

After he’d gotten Anya on the line, Xan had apologized for not picking her up and doing this right. He explained that he’d gotten tied up, but that they had a seven o’clock appointment to look at an apartment that he thought she was going to love.

 

He had expected Anya to be mad that he was making her walk to the new apartment, but she had been so excited, she had nearly slammed the phone on his ear so she could rush out. Now twenty minutes later, Anya, breathless but grinning met him in the hallway.

 

“Oh, I’m so excited! Where’s the manager? We need the key!”

 

“Whoa, whoa, honey. Calm down. I have the key right here,” Xander said pulling the gold colored piece of metal from his pant’s pocket. “First I need you to close your eyes for a minute.”

 

“My eyes? What for?”

 

“Tradition.” Xander answered, a warm smile on his handsome features, “It’s kinda a thing where when you have a surprise for someone, they have to close their eyes first.”

 

“I have a surprise? Inside the apartment?” Anya said, her eyes dancing merrily with bewilderment but also joy.

 

“Yep. I really hope you like it. I didn’t have a lot of time, but I think I did good. Now, eyes closed. And no peeking until I say so.”

 

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The sun was down and Zeppo-Xander had been caught in a sudden downpour just as it turned dark. His eyes were wary, scanning the darkness around him for any signs of hostiles. He was again berating himself, this time for not grabbing a stake or at least a crucifix before running out after dark.

 

He was out of breath by the time he reached Tara’s room. His first stop before trying Willow’s room, as she more likely would be here. Drenched and shivering with cold, he knocked hard on the door.

 

“Xander!” Willow greeted her best friend. A smile was quickly replaced with worry however, when she noticed his disheveled appearance and, well, he smelled like he hadn’t showered since the dump. “Xander? What is it? Why do you look like something Miss Kitty Fantastico wouldn’t bother dragging in?”

 

“Hey, Will. Listen, I need to say something and its going to sound completely nuts, but I swear it’s the truth.” Xander was looking slightly panicked, deepening Willow’s worry.

 

“Okay, before I get into it, I gotta prove to you that this is me. I’m the real Xander… um… oh god, what’s something that only we know…?”

 

“Xander, I think you need a breath… or maybe a whole lot of them. You’re starting to sound like me when I turn into babble-girl.”

 

“Oh!” Xander snapped his fingers, apparently not hearing her, “When I was, uh, seven I wanted that fire truck. And I didn’t get it and I was really disappointed, but then there was a real fire next door and the fire trucks came and I thought you had started the fire for me so that I’d get my fire truck.”

 

He took a deep breath, while Willow sat quietly. On her face was conflicting amusement, worry, and confusion over what in the world Xander was doing.

 

“And I promise, if you became a little arsonist, I’d still think it was the coolest thing ever! Oh! And there’s the Charlie Brown special every year!” Xander snapped his fingers, “You know, the Snoopy dance!”

 

Xander began his impersonation of the Peanut’s character’s dance to Willow’s further amusement.  She laughed out loud as she remembered the times as kids (and truth time: as not so kids) when he’d be Snoopy and she’d be Peppermint Patty and would call him Chuck as she mimicked some of the dance moves of the animated characters.

 

“Xan, please stop, before I bust my gut. You’re you, okay? I know you’re you. Now what’s going on?”

 

Xander deflated in relief at Willow’s words. “Oh, thank God. Okay, last night when I got hit with that magical thingy of Toth’s?” He waited for Willow’s nod of acknowledgment. “Well, what you guys took home last night wasn’t me. I was unconscious under a cardboard box. And by the way, waking up in a trash dump… not recommended. I’ve been following phony-me all day.”

 

“Wait. If we didn’t walk you home, then who did we? I mean, he had your keys and the cell phone and everything!”

 

Xander shook his head, commiserating with her confusion, “It’s Toth. It’s gotta be. Some how he’s managed to make himself look like me and he pick pocketed me too. I can probably kiss that thirty bucks in my wallet good-bye.”

 

“Oh, my gods! Xander, I’m sorry. We should have noticed something was wrong, but except maybe being more confident, he’s got you down pretty damned well.”

 

“Don’t I know it, Will. I followed him to the site and my boss gave him my promotion without batting an eye!”

 

“You got a promotion?” Willow gave him a huge grin, “Congratulations! That’s so exciting. And you have so earned it.”

 

“Focus, Wills. Toth got the promotion; we have to stop him. Oh, and he’s using this shiny, hypnosis thing he keeps in his pocket. Oh, and you know what else, the bastard is seducing Anya, too. He is like this super-smooth criminal, except he looks like me instead of Michael Jackson in gangster wear.”

 

“It’s okay, Xan. Now that we know, Tara and I can do a ‘seeing past the illusion’ type spell. Anya will see that it’s Toth and not you.”

 

“Oh, god! Anya could be with him right now! He was looking at apartments earlier. I think he’s going to try to be me permanently and have slimy babies with her!”

 

“Calm down, Xan. We’re going to stop him. Just let me run over to the library and grab Tara….”

 

“No, I can’t wait. I’ve gotta find Anya,” Xander yelled as he sprinted for the door, “You guys get with Buffy and fill her in.”

 

As Xander took off down the hallway, before Willow could protest his running off, she heard him yell back, “And somebody call my cell! Ask to talk to her!”

 

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Tara was sitting in one of the campus library’s A/V rooms. Around her sat five other students of mixed genders and races, all talking animatedly. Tara was actively defending her views on Marie Antoinette as historical victim and was proud of her self. She knew if this discussion had been going on the year before, she’d be sitting here trying to disappear into the cushiony chair she’d claimed upon entering. In fact, she probably would have looked for any excuse to skip sitting in a group all together.

 

She was just about to concede that it was possible that Marie was, in fact, not innocent in the persecution of the poor in France, when the door was pulled open violently. As all eyes turned to take in the cause of the interruption, Tara saw Willow panting wildly out of breath.

 

“T-Tara,” Willow panted, “Sorry to interrupt study group. We need to go, we, um,” Willow took in the bewildered students in the room, “We, uh, forgot that meeting we had tonight. The, uh, crime club meeting.”

 

Tara had been puzzled by Willow’s demeanor until she said ‘crime club’. As Tara realized a Scooby-emergency had arisen, she was already gathering her things together.

 

“Sorry about this, Stacy,” Tara said to a brunette she’d just been arguing with. “I am so flaky sometimes. I completely forgot about the time and the, uh, crime club meeting. Listen, I look forward to continuing this debate in class on Friday though.”

 

As Tara and Willow crossed the library’s main floor toward the exit, Tara asked Willow why she hadn’t just called her.

 

“Oh! In the excitement, I completely forgot we have cell phones now!”

 

Willow patted her skirt, before giving an annoyed huff. “Dammit. I left the phone on the bed.”

 

“It’s okay, I have mine. What’s going on?”

 

“Long story, but it boils down to Toth looks like Xander and we’ve all been played for dupes. Can you give Buffy’s cell a call and tell her we’re on our way?”

 

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As the downpour stopped as quickly as it had started, Buffy and Riley was noticing that the Magic Box was darkened, the door locked. As her cell began vibrating in her pocket, she noticed Spike crawling up from the sewer. Hitting the ‘answer’ button, she said aloud, “What the hell do you want and why are you down there!?”

 

“Uh, Buffy? Sorry, am I, um, b-bothering you in the middle of, uh, s-something?”

 

Tara? Oh, no, sorry! That wasn’t at you; Spike just crawled up from the sewers, which,” she pulled the phone away from her ear to direct her comment directly at Spike, “is really disgusting. What’s up Tara?” Buffy asked, as she completely turned her back on the vampire struggling to crawl out of the manhole.

 

“We need to have an emergency Scooby meeting about Toth. Xander just talked to Will…”

 

“…And Toth is impersonating Xander,” Buffy finished. “I know, I saw him. Riley and I are at the ‘Magic Box’ now, but Giles has it closed already. We’re going to have to meet at his place. We’re on our way now. And Tara, I’m nearly out of minutes… could you pretty please call Giles to let him know we’re invading again? Thanks, you’re a sweetheart. See you soon.”

 

Buffy hung up the phone and turned to Spike, “Okay, back to my question.”

 

“Not much to tell. Seems you’re already up on what’s happening. Although, at least now I can stop worrying that Xander’s possessed or crazy.”

 

“You saw Xander today?”

 

“And he was acting really odd. Even for him.”

 

“Wow, he’s been busy today. Okay, we’re going to Giles’ to find out if he has anything on where Toth may be now or how to use that staff that Xander got away from him.”

 

Spike looked astonished, “Xander got that demon’s glow rod thing? I’m impressed with the runt.”

 

“Well, this chat has been oh-so-pleasant, but I’m sure you have a butcher to visit or broken furniture to shop for…,” Buffy said as she led Riley away.

 

Spike wasn’t one to be put off by her bitchery, however. “Sorry, luv. You don’t get rid of me that easily. If Xander’s in danger, I’m gonna be there to help.”

 

Scant seconds later, Spike felt the need to add, “I mean help him out of the danger, not into it. You got that right?”

 

Buffy didn’t bother to respond. And all he received from Riley was a glare.

 

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As the sudden downpour stopped, a male figure hunched over in the woods. In his hands were the limp remains of a wild rabbit, its neck cleanly broken.

 

Hyena-Xander tore into the rabbit with gusto, enjoying its still warm blood bathing his hands. The raw meat tantalized his senses and as his teeth tore its skin open, his stomach growled in anticipation.

 

Eating rapidly, lest other more powerful predators arrive to take his prize, he threw the torn bits of fur, the feet, the ears and the tail away from him in distaste. Xander walked over to a tree on the edge of the wood and licked water from the leaves, enjoying its fresh, clean taste.

 

He was idly considering finding Spike to talk again about his earlier offer when a familiar scent caught his attention. It was faint and drifting on the breeze that made the trees sing above his head, but it was there. He closed his eyes to take a deep, even breath through his nostrils. Teasing the scent he wanted from those of the rabbit’s remains and other spoor on the wind, his eyes shot open suddenly and he growled out into the night.

 

He began to stalk away from the woods. He knew this scent. It was the same as in the dump when he’d woken up disoriented after the scuffle with Toth. He couldn’t believe he’d forgotten. There had been a duplicate of himself, lying in the trash heap and now he could remember the crippling hunger that had driven thought from his mind. He’d completely forgotten about the odd occurrence until now, until the same-but-different scent called out to him. Xander began the hunt for its source.

 

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End Ch 12

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Chapter 13 of 17, Confusion of Three

Disclaimer: Legal stuff, don't own characters, haven't made any money, this is for entertainment purposes, no profit earned, lawyers go away. –kisses-

Spoiler Alert: There are tidbits from past episodes and Spanderverse: stories.

Notes: Fifth story in the Spanderverse-universe, following “Spanderverse: Burial”.

Everything from the television series through the defeat of Adam also occurred as depicted, in the Spanderverse. Following Burial and before this story BTVS: Real Me occurred. This is the Spanderverse: version of BTVS: The Replacement.

Note in the Spanderverse, Anya was employed at the Magic Shop by Mr. Bogerty until ‘Real Me’, as mentioned in Spanderverse: Dracula.

People’s thoughts are depicted in italics. You’ll find emphasis depicted with an underline.

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Spanderverse: Confusion of Three

Ch. 13/17 – Interlude Before Action


“Holy frijoles!” Anya shrieked upon opening her eyes. She took in the scene before her, her eyes already misting over.

 

Behind her she heard Xander say, “So, did I do as good as I think I did?”

 

Anya took a moment to compose herself and then turned and threw herself into her man’s arms. The shoulder protested slightly, but Xander quickly adjusted to avoid squeezing the injured arm. She kissed him deeply, then turned away from him and rushed down to her knees.

 

Spread out before her was a picnic blanket. On the blanket stood two table-top candle stands, each holding two candles already lit. Also on the blanket lay a spread of two plates and two wine glasses; empty at the moment. Anya’s eyes lit upon the picnic basket lying to one side of the blanket and her stomach nearly growled as she smelled fried chicken coming from it. Next to the basket lay an ice bucket which was chilling a bottle of chardonnay.


She returned to her feet, taking in the rest of the apartment. She noted the cabinets in the kitchen which was separated from the main room by a high counter top. This was on the left of the room and in this direction also were two doors, currently closed.

 

On the right side of the room a single door stood slightly ajar, the room dark within. Anya turned back to Xander who had come up behind her, one hand lightly resting on her good shoulder while the other gripped her hip.


“This is so beautiful, Xander. I love this apartment!”


“Not so fast. You haven’t seen the master bath, yet.” As Xander led her into the room with the door ajar and flipped a light switch, Anya saw it had another door on the opposite side of the room. Following Xander, who again got the light for her, she saw a spacious bathroom with gleaming tiles the color of sand and a large vanity mirror.

 

“It’s wonderful. Where do we sign?”

 

“Oh, no you don’t. You haven’t seen the best part of the place, yet.”

 

“Xander,” Anya said with passion, “I love this place, right now. When can we take it?”

 

He laughed warmly, and took her by the hand. Leading her back out of the bedroom, he pointed to a door she hadn’t noticed before in the room.

 

“That looks like an outer door. Oh, my god! Don’t tell me this place has a veranda!” Anya laughed out loud in excitement as she left Xander standing in the living room and made a mad dash for the mystery door. Opening this, she found a small veranda sitting, already furnished with a very petite patio table and three wicker chairs in white. “Ah!” Anya screamed again, jumping up and down in place.

 

“When I saw that, I knew I had to show you the place,” Xander said, a huge grin on his face. “Come back in here and sit down. We’ve got chicken, potato salad and wine. When we’re done, I’ve got some vanilla pudding in the fridge.”

 

“This is amazing,” Anya said, as she did what he’d beckoned, “I can’t believe you did all this, Xander.” She leaned in and kissed him again, “And I do love this apartment. Please tell me no one else is interested in renting it?”

 

“Well, actually, some guy has already signed a lease,” Xander said to her. He pulled out a stack of folded papers from the heavy jacket he wore.

 

As Anya took the sheaf of papers, she noticed a key had been taped to the stack. She opened the sheath of papers and saw ‘Alexander L. Harris’ filled into multiple blank spaces. Her eyes wide and her mouth hanging open, she looked to see Xander’s face displaying affection and humor.

 

“So, I was really hoping you’d fall in love with the place on first sight.”

 

Anya laughed and dashed around the space, touching the walls; running her hands along the counter top; and opening the doors that had been closed. One was just a room, the other a small bathroom. She felt as light as air and twirled around in circles in the living room, before returning to the small blanket laid out on the floor.

 

“You are the most wonderful man I’ve ever known.” She kissed him again.

 

“And you are beautiful,” Xander returned.

 

“When do we get married and start having children?”

 

Xander sat stunned, not knowing what had happened to the conversation, “Uh, what?”

 

“That’s what comes next, right. We get married, have children, then start to look for a house. Something with a white picket fence, according to the television movies I’ve seen.”

 

“Whoa-whoa-whoa, Anya, slow down a bit. We just got our first apartment together. There’s no rush.”

 

“Well of course there’s a rush, Xander! I’m dying!”

 

Xander stood shell shocked, his mind racing. “What, you’re what? You’re not…!”

 

“In as little as fifty years, I could be in my grave. There’s so little time to squeeze everything in!”

 

Xander exploded in brief, relieved laughter. Seeing the distraught look on Anya’s face, he forced himself to sober up. “Listen, Ahn. We have decades and decades of time left.”

 

She came to sit beside him on the blanket and leaned against him. “But Xander, it’s not a lot of time. We have to raise the kids and maybe some puppies, and still have time to retire and travel the world, plus we’re both becoming career people and you know how much time that’s going to eat up. Plus all that time we have to waste with sleep. It’s all just rushing so fast.”

 

“Listen to me, Ahn. You’re just feeling this sudden panic because you’ve gone from immortal to mortal and it’s all a big shock. I get that. But it’s all going to be okay. People have been doing everything with far less than fifty years for centuries. We’ve got the time. Just slow down, take a deep breath, and enjoy the moment. Everything else will come when it’s time. When we both know it is right. Now, here; let’s unpack some of this food and open the bottle. I’m starved.”

 

Xander leaned in and gave Anya a long kiss. As he felt her relaxing under his ministrations, he withdrew and smiled at her. “Life is going to be very long; and probably very silly for the both of us. I can’t think of anyone better to laugh through it with.”

 

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Willow and Tara were rushing through town on their way to Giles’ apartment. Both of their arms were laden with candles, a few scent bottles of oils and a map of Sunnydale and its environs. Much of this may have already been at Giles’, but Willow had insisted that they go prepared.

 

As they edged their way around Sunnydale Memorial Park; they were startled by the sudden appearance of Xander. As they both gasped and Willow shrieked, Tara lost her hold on her candles and they fell to the sidewalk.

 

She knelt down to retrieve the lost items, while Willow berated Xander for scaring her. “Did you find Anya, yet,” she asked him.

 

“Anya? Who the hell would need to find Anya?” Xander yipped in laughter. “I was actually following a scent when I noticed you walking off somewhere awfully fast. Thought I’d come over and get a good look at you.”

 

Tara noticed immediately that Xander was acting extremely odd. As she freed her arms by dropping her supplies, Willow was backing away from him.

 

“You know,” this weird-Xander said, still focused completely on Willow, “You’ve got a lot more power than I remember. I can smell it coming off of you in waves. I may have to re-think my whole choice in mates.” As Xander took a step forward toward Willow to close the gap she’d made, Tara jumped up to her feet.

 

Before she could respond, Willow already beat her to the punch. “Lumen Mico!” Willow yelled out.

 

Hyena-Xander was intrigued with the red-headed witch. He had known her forever, and yet he was surprised at the mystic strength radiating from her. He didn’t know why it had taken so long for him to perceive her in such a new way, but he felt lust quickly building in his loins for her.

 

As he closed in on her, he heard her shout out something unintelligible. There was a sudden and intense white light that exploded in front of his eyes, sending spears of pain into the back of his skull.

 

Instantly he reacted, instinctively lashing out in front of him. He felt the pleasant pain from the back of his fist connecting solidly with flesh and the hard bone beneath. There was the sound of a surprised grunt, then a body hitting pavement.

 

He heard the other witch, Tara, screech Willow’s name. He had completely forgotten the timid woman was even nearby; he’d been so focused on Willow’s scent.

 

As he heard her yell, Xander automatically turned to face Tara, despite the fact that he could see little other than bright spots in front of his eyes. His wide mouth pulled back in a grimace and he growled in her general direction.

 

Tara took a step back, shocked that an actual animal-like growl was issuing at her from a face she associated with friendly laughter. Raising her hand into a fist, she chanted, “depulso”, and from her hand shot a green blob of energy which leaped to fake-Xander and threw him away from them.

 

As Hyena-Xander felt himself lifted and tossed away, he snarled. Hitting the ground, he rolled onto his feet and took off at a run.

 

I don’t know what I was wasting my time for anyway, he thought darkly. I’m supposed to be hunting down my alter-ego and finding out what the hell is going on!

 

As odd-Xander took off running, Tara was helping Willow back to her feet. She appeared to be alright, except for a red mark across her jaw.

 

“I’m alright, Sweetie. I think it was just a glancing blow.”

 

“Okay, if that was Toth trying to pretend to be Xander, it wasn’t even close to convincing,” Tara stated as she began picking up their supplies.

 

“I know. And what is with all this mating talk? I thought Xander told me he was interested in seducing Anya. It looks more like it’s a free-for-all as far as Toth is concerned.”

 

“Well, we better get to Giles’.”

 

“And fast,” Willow added.

 

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As Tara and Willow were meeting Hyena-Xander, Zeppo-Xander was involved in a heated battle of his own. It was less violent, but just as brutal.

 

Ms. Milner stood at the front door, glaring out at Xander through the locked screen door. “I have told you more than once, young man, ‘No boys allowed!’ If you and Anya want to have pre-marital relations, you’ll do it somewhere that doesn’t care about respectability!”

 

“I’ve tried to explain, Ms. Milner: this isn’t a social call. It’s urgent that I speak to her. She could be in danger.”

 

“You couldn’t even bother to get cleaned up first,” the old lady said in revulsion, “You stink like a darned waste can. And it’s coming through the screen and polluting my hallway. You just get out of here until you can show a little decency and hygiene.”

 

Zeppo-Xander watched as Ms. Milner began closing the heavy wood door in his face. Desperate, he yelled at her, “Look, you old goat! If you don’t get Anya in number four out here right now, I’ll… I’ll, uh, I’ll call the police! Yeah, I’ll tell them you’re holding her hostage against her will. What will the neighbors think then, huh? How respectable will it look when they’ve got a blow horn in the front yard and their lights flashing all over?”

 

Ms. Milner sniffed derisively at him. “There’s no need to threaten me, young man. I’ll have you know that I have a sterling reputation with this neighborhood. Besides, your girl isn’t even here. She’s at work still, probably because you’re too damned cheap to marry her and take care of her as a real man would!”

 

Xander was just starting to shout at the bitter old broad that she could have just told him that before, but the protest was interrupted by the door being slammed forcefully in front of him. As Xander cursed, he sped off of the porch, his panic ratcheted up.

 

Please, please, let her be at the Magic Box!

 

He raced as fast as his out-of-shape body could to the magic store, only to find it locked. The lights were off, except for a small lamp on the counter.

 

Now nearly hyperventilating in panic, and squeezing the hard metal of the pistol in his pocket, Xander fought to think. He began to consider running to Giles’ or perhaps Buffy’s when he realized exactly where Anya probably was.

 

“Oh, god,” Xander said in despair to the night, “Toth’s apartment!”

 

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End Ch 13

space2

Spanderverse: Confusion of Three, chapter 14 of 17

Disclaimer: Legal stuff, don't own characters, haven't made any money, this is for entertainment purposes, no profit earned, lawyers go away. –kisses-

Spoiler Alert: There are tidbits from past episodes and Spanderverse: stories.

Notes: Fifth story in the Spanderverse-universe, following “Spanderverse: Burial”.

Everything from the television series through the defeat of Adam also occurred as depicted, in the Spanderverse. Following Burial and before this story BTVS: Real Me occurred. This is the Spanderverse: version of BTVS: The Replacement.

Note in the Spanderverse, Anya was employed at the Magic Shop by Mr. Bogerty until ‘Real Me’, as mentioned in Spanderverse: Dracula.

People’s thoughts are depicted in italics. You’ll find emphasis depicted with an underline.

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Spanderverse: Confusion of Three

Ch. 14/17 – Giles’ Place and Explanations

 

Giles had just poured himself a nice cup of tea and was adding a thin lemon slice to the brew when his front door burst open. As he walked out of the kitchen with a tray laden with mugs and a coffee pot, he greeted with a smile Buffy and Riley. As he espied Spike saunter in behind him, he scowled briefly before turning his attention back to his Slayer.

 

“Giles, did Tara tell you we were all headed over here?” Buffy asked. And then before Giles had a chance to answer added, “Ooh, coffee!”

 

“Here you are Riley,” Giles said amiably as he set the tray on a table and handed a mug to the ex-commando. Giles pointedly did not offer a mug to Spike, and barely acknowledged his presence with a short, “Spike.”

 

“Rupert,” returned Spike before grabbing a coffee mug anyway. Though he wasn’t much of a drinker of the junk, Giles had tried to snub him and that called for drastic action. He took two small swallows of the bitter drink, before setting the cup down. He figured he’d made the point.

 

“How much did Tara say on the phone?” Buffy wanted to know.

 

“Uh, duplicate Xander; probably Toth in disguise….”

 

“Okay, I have the real Xander at his and Anya’s new apartment. Oh, yeah! Xander has a new apartment… I can’t wait to see it. I bet it’s really nice, he was so excited, and he said that Anya would just love it so it must be really roomy!” Buffy took a breath to swallow some of her own coffee, her cup having far too much sugar for Giles’ liking.

 

“So,” Riley interjected, “We’re basically thinking that we can look for any Xanders running around Sunnydale and that should be Toth.”

 

“Now, all we need is a way to defeat him. Do you think I can just beat him to death?”

 

“Well,” Giles said, settling himself on a chair and grabbing a book. “I’ve been doing some research. I knew I had more detailed information here on the, uh, Tothric Clan. Anyway, now that we’ve got his staff away from him, he should be relatively easy to, uh, to defeat. Although, I’m starting to wonder about this alleged staff… it certainly looks like a plain old branch.”

 

“That’s what I said,” Buffy added.

 

“But Xander did say that he took it off of Toth,” Riley added.

 

“Well, according to my research, this particular demon clan specializes in powering up cedar staves. It’s possible that this was an enchanted staff. Once Xander removed it from Toth’s possession, it may have, uh, reverted. Turned itself back into the regular tree branch it started as.”

 

“Doesn’t that mean that Toth could have another powered-up branch, then?” Buffy wanted to know.

 

“Well, according to this grimoire, it is a rather involved process. Toth would have to be over a large vessel, or, uh, cauldron filled with herbs over a fire. It would require him to enter deep meditation for hours.”

 

“Well,” Spike interjected, “He’s had all day for his meditating ass to come up with another magical stick, now hasn’t he?”

 

Buffy turned to him, irritated. “Why exactly are you here, again?”

 

“Told you, Pet. Where ever there’s a Scoob in trouble, that’s where I’ll be to save the day. Especially, if it’s Xander. He’s nearly the only one of you lot that’s worth the saving.”

 

“Whatever, just stay out of my way. So, Giles… any way to make his magic blaster less blastery?”

 

Willow and Tara came rushing into the apartment before Giles could answer. Their arms were loaded with candles and bottles. As they struggled to find a place to dump their supplies, Willow was breathlessly describing Toth’s weird behavior.

 

Tara added, “He seemed to be interested in mating with Willow.”

 

“You too, huh” Spike said to Willow, though no one seemed to notice he was even there.

 

“I’m glad you two are safe,” Buffy said, organizing her thoughts. “Okay, Giles, I need a way to defeat Toth fast, especially if he’s managed to come up with another staff. Riley, help the girls get set up with their spell stuff, please. Willow and Tara, I need you to perform a search spell for Xander. We know the real deal is at the new apartment having his romantic dinner with Anya.”

 

For some reason that Spike didn’t understand, the thought of Xander going over so much trouble for that bint irritated him. He buried the sharp remark on his tongue, however, in the hope that they could move things along to the hitting part.

 

“So, whichever one is wandering around Sunnydale is the one we hit,” Riley said.

 

“We’re on it,” Willow told the room, grabbing Tara’s hand.

 

As Willow and Tara began concentrating, Riley spread out a map of Sunnydale. Anointing candles and lighting them, he glanced nervously at the girls. His province was military hardware; the magic stuff was just weird and it made him uncomfortable.

 

As Riley began to dust the city map with handfuls of reddish sand, Willow and Tara began to chant in what sounded like Latin. As he watched, the sand began to move of its own accord, drawing together into clumps. These clumps then began slowly moving over the map, glowing with a soft white light.

 

Buffy was waiting a little impatiently for some answers. She hated this part where all of her Slayer powers were basically useless. Unless the others could point her in the right direction, there wasn’t anything for her to hit. She glanced over at the platinum blond.

 

Except for Spike, that is. Maybe if the witches come up a bust, I’ll beat on him. Especially, if he doesn’t stop looking at me like that. What the hell is his problem?

 

Spike tried to appear nonchalant as he waited for the whiz kids to tell them where Toth was wandering. He tried to feign disinterest in everyone around him, but Buffy was wearing some sort of body spray that smelled faintly of vanilla. His eyes kept being drawn to her of their own accord and he kept catching himself staring at her.

 

I really need to talk to her. I can’t keep going on pretending I don’t want her, despite the fact that she’s still hanging around with Captain Plank-o-Wood.

 

As he caught Buffy looking at him with a puzzled expression on her face, he tried to play it cool. Nodding at her and giving her a small smile, he was rewarded with her eyes rolling and her sucking her teeth in irritation. She turned away from him quite deliberately and wandered over to see if the witches were making progress. Spike was left standing near the front door still, feeling left out.

 

The sooner we can save Xander, the better, he thought. He’ll be grateful for my help even if Ms. Full-of-Herself isn’t.

 

Giles sat up suddenly, looking around the room with urgency. “Oh, dear!” he exclaimed, receiving nothing back except a raised eyebrow from Spike.

 

Willow and Tara had opened their eyes and were looking at the results of their spell. “What is this,” Willow asked, mystified.

 

“What?” Buffy enquired, “Why are there three little Tinkerbells on the map?”

 

“Well, uh,” Tara said, looking at Buffy’s confused expression that she was sure matched her own, “According to this there are actually three Xanders running around town.”

 

Willow added with her own confusion, “Yeah. It looks like we have two Xanders at the corner of Medley and Wilkins Road. That’s a residential neighborhood; it must be Xander’s apartment building.”

 

“Look at this Willow,” Tara said before once again addressing Buffy. “It looks like the Xander we met is on the far side of the memorial park and headed in the direction of the other two.”

 

Giles cleared his throat loudly, wishing to attract Buffy’s attention. “Oh, dear?” he repeated.

 

“Oh, man! That’s gotta mean that Toth and Xander are in the same building right now,” Riley deduced. “And whoever Mystery Xander Number 3 is will soon be joining the party.”

 

“Crap!” Buffy exclaimed, “We gotta call Xander. I mean our Xander and warn him to barricade the door till we get there. Who’s got a cell with some minutes left?”

 

“I got it,” Riley volunteered, already pulling out his phone and dialing.

 

“I said,” Giles virtually yelled, “’Oh, dear’ over here!”

 

“Yes, but you always say that,” Buffy responded.

 

“Well, it’s always important. I think I’ve found what Toth has been trying to do.”

 

“Well, don’t keep us in suspense, Rupes,” Spike said, trying to feel part of the gang.

 

“Toth’s staff or more to the point, that blast that hit Xander? It was designed to split someone into their components, uh, psychically I mean. Separating different aspects into different physical bodies.”

 

Buffy looked completely lost. “I don’t get it. What was the point of that?”

 

“Well, think about it. If you had been hit with the ray instead of Xander, you’d have been split the way he apparently has been. All of your Slayer abilities in one Buffy, while the regular attributes went into another, more average Buffy.”

 

“Wait,” Riley said, “Wouldn’t that have just made another Super-Buffy? It seems like a sure way to end up dead for him.”

 

“Think, Muscle-boy,” Spike said. “If one’s Supergirl, the other is just plain human. Kill one and I bet the other one takes a dirt nap too. Am I right, Rupert?” Spike looked to Buffy, trying to gauge if he impressed her over Riley with this bit of deduction.

 

“Err, w-well, y-yes. That’s exactly what I was, uh, going to say,” Giles’ responded. “We have to keep all three of these Xanders from killing each other. None of them are Toth. He must still be around somewhere looking for another chance to shoot the Slayer with another mystic bolt.”

 

Spike rolled his eyes. Despite the fact he’d been ahead of everyone else in the room, Buffy apparently remained unimpressed. She didn’t even bother looking over at him, let alone giving him some tiny crumb of acknowledgement.

 

“But why three?” Willow wanted to know.

 

“W-well, uh,” Giles removed his glasses, slipping one of its arms into his mouth. After a brief second, his eyes lit up in comprehension. “Xander has been possessed twice, remember? Once during Ethan’s pranks he was a soldier of some sort, I believe.”

 

“Right!” Willow took over, “And then there was his hyena possession. That must have been the Xander that’s looking for a mate! He’s looking to create a stronger pack!”

 

“Then the Xander who met you in my room; that must have been our regular Xander. That’s why he was still wearing those clothes he had on at the dump,” Tara said, remembering Willow’s description of him as they traveled toward Giles’ place.

 

“That leaves the Xander with Anya as the soldier,” Riley said.

 

“So how do we help him Giles,” Buffy asked.

 

“We have to put them back together,” Giles said, “mystically. It should be simple for Willow and Tara. Toth’s magic is what is keeping them separated. Once it isn’t a factor anymore, they should simply re-merge into one gestalt being. Uh, be the same Xander we’re used to.”

 

“No answer from Xander’s cell though,” Riley said, closing his phone hard in frustration, “He must either have it off, or…”

 

“…Or it’s too late and the Xanders are already trying to kill each other thinking their fighting Toth!” Buffy ran for the door, “Come on! We’ve gotta get over there before one of them does something that none of them can live with!”

 

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End Ch 14